Development and tracking of central patterns of subcutaneous fat in adolescence and adulthood: the Amsterdam Growth and Health Study

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BACKGROUND: A central pattern of body fat is recognized as a risk indicator of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. The development of this body fat pattern from childhood into adulthood however, remains to be explored.

METHODS: The development of two trunk skinfolds (subscapular; supra-iliac), two extremity skinfolds (biceps; triceps), and three trunk-extremity skinfold ratios for males (n = 71) and females (n = 84), were described over a period of 17 years from 13 to 29 years of age. In addition, tracking of the skinfolds and the skinfold ratios was investigated over this period. Data for this study came from the Amsterdam Growth and Health Study, an ongoing longitudinal study in the Netherlands that started in 1977.

RESULTS: In adolescence, a decrease was seen in extremity skinfolds for men but not for women. For both sexes, the trunk skinfolds increased over the entire period of study. An increase was found in trunk-extremity skinfold ratios in males, but not in females. Tracking coefficients, calculated as Pearson correlation coefficients between the initial measurement and subsequent measurements, were about 0.4 for the single skinfolds between 13 and 29 years of age for both men and women. For the skinfold ratios, these correlation coefficients were about 0.55. Longitudinal tracking coefficients, measuring the association between the initial measurement and all follow-up data simultaneously, were about 0.65 for both men and women.

CONCLUSIONS: A central pattern of body fat, mainly seen in males, seems to start in adolescence. From a preventive point of view, tracking coefficients were too low to be of predictive value. In order to conclude that the roots of a central pattern of body fat are in adolescence, careful search for determinants of change of this body fat pattern is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1162-71
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of epidemiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996


  • Adipose Tissue/growth & development
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Growth/physiology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Skinfold Thickness

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